Friday, May 08, 2009

What’s it like to be a….Physician’s Assistant?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
I work in a family practice setting so I see patients ranging from infants to the elderly. I work from about 7:45-5:30/6:00 seeing many different cases every day, ranging from the common cold to lacerations to diabetes, etc.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?
None. I got my bachelor’s degree majoring in Spanish and went on to PA school immediately after graduating.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 05/08 at 08:49 AM

Monday, May 04, 2009

What’s it like to be an…Assistant Dean of Residence Life?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
Certain aspects of my job I perform almost daily, while other responsibilities are much more seasonal.  Regardless of the time of year, I meet with students and staff each day to work out issues of housing or to discuss a housing policy violation.  In addition, I am a liaison to other campus departments (Food service, Building services, Academic Services, and Admissions).  I have weekly interactions with these departments and represent the Residence Life Department in those meetings.  Finally, I supervise the Knollcrest East Apartments and the Area Coordinator position coordinating various student support and accountability services with the Dean of Students for Judicial Affairs.

In the summer, I help with roommate matching, assist with orientation programs, and prepare for opening the residence halls and apartments to students in the fall.  This includes helping with Resident Director and Residence Assistant training.  In the fall and winter, I teach a first year experience class, mentor the hall presidents, and review our policies and procedures.  In the spring I facilitate the room selection process for returning students in both the residence halls and apartments and help plan summer improvement projects.  All in all, it is not a boring job, and no two days are the same.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 05/04 at 02:24 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job Fair Top 10’s

After today’s visit to a sizeable job fair, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some things people just must not know—otherwise they would not do them. So to help clear up any ambiguity, here’s today’s list of …..
Top Ten Things People Should Know Before Going To a Job Fair:
• That overly died, permed hair is no longer flattering
• That a royal blue sweater, tan pants (too short), and RED socks don’t match
• That even if the clothes aren’t totally appropriate, everything can benefit from being pressed
• That well fitting pants look better than ones that are too tight across the derriere
• That lip rings are better off left at home
• That posture counts—straight up is better than slumped and shuffling
• That bright and energetic works better than dull-eyed and dour
• That not all recruiters know how to carry on a conversation, so you’d better be ready with some openers and questions
• That going from booth to booth with a friend in tow is not a good idea
• That cell phones should be turned off at the door

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/24 at 05:38 PM

Friday, February 20, 2009

Successful networking example

Despite the urge to babysit Craigslist or other posting boards, the most productive job searches are still those involving personal contact. People who know you can either suggest other contacts or might know of openings where they work.
That approach worked well for a grad who moved to a new city where she didn’t know anyone. What to do? Well, she started by finding a local church, more for worship purposes than any thoughts of networking in mind. But she went beyond that, joined a small group and got to know others who cared about her. A few months later, someone from that group told her about a current opening at a local business. Our alum’s advice for other grads?
“As for finding a job in this economy, I think it’s helpful to inform others of your situation. In my small group, I would share my frustrations and my problems with looking for a job. If there is an open position with any company and you know an insider, it’s really helpful. Or…they could know people who know people, which is what happened to me. I figured out it’s like a connection game.”

Small group not for you? Well, what about joining an organization or volunteering? What about past or present professors? Guest speakers in your classes? Other college alumni? Friends of your family or acquaintances from your internships?  Basically, start by brainstorming a list of any and all possible contacts to kick off your own networking process.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/20 at 01:46 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Persistence Pays Off

Upon walking into my office yesterday, I noticed a yellow sticky note with the following message. “I found a job. Although it’s not much, it’s a step in the right direction…Thanks for walking me through some of these [job search] processes.”

The thank you note says a lot about this particular student—but more on thank you notes in a later posting.

This person’s story illustrates the age old adage: when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s exactly what he did. And here’s his story:


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:48 AM

Tweaking Your Resume Content

Students often ask me if they need to rewrite their resume for every job. The answer is no, not a total rewrite unless you’re applying for an entirely different job target. But a good solid tweak is not a bad idea. You can find guidelines for the tweak from the job description itself. How does the employer describe the work, responsibilities and qualifications? That’s the type of wording you want to echo in your own resume. Resumes which suggest that you’re only looking for a job, any job and not their job, will quickly end up on the reject pile.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:45 AM

10 Second Rule

Let’s start with something easy. I call it the 10 second rule. It’s one thing to have your resume content accurate and up to date. But does it really convey what you want it to? To find out, give your resume to someone, preferably someone who doesn’t know you well, and ask them to scan it for 10 seconds. Then ask them to summarize your experience and skills. From what they’ve read about you, what are your outstanding abilities? Highlights of your experience? Compare their response with your intended purpose to see if your resume gets your point across.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:06 AM

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Series: Job Search Tip of the Day

Despite the poor economy, despite dour news from every direction, people are still getting hired. Yes, it’s hard work, often discouraging and replete with emotional ups and downs. But finding a job is not impossible.
And from a Biblical perspective, we serve a God of hope who is both willing and able to open and close doors, create a way when there is none. He is indeed the Way Maker as Scripture illustrates over and over again.
So to assist this year’s seniors—and maybe some alumni—with their search, I’m adding a new series to the “What’s it like to be a….?” career profiles which have been running since last summer. Job Search Tip of the Day—baby steps designed to maintain job search momentum. I’ll include tips and suggestions large and small with many examples taken from real life. Both the tried and true as well as current practices designed to increase the effectiveness of your search today.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 11:53 AM

What’s it like to be a…Librarian?

My job title is:  Instruction Librarian
My actual position is:  Reference librarian and coordinator of instruction

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
We have pretty standard work hours (8-5) year-round, although all ten librarians take turns working evening and Saturday shifts.  We are busiest during the academic year; it is very quiet in the library during the summer, but I am usually involved with larger, more time-consuming projects.  In addition to regular shifts at the reference desk (about 6-8 hours a week), my primary responsibilities are teaching English 101 research sessions and the administrative tasks involved with coordinating all the instruction the library provides on campus (workshops, lunch sessions, etc).  Another area of responsibility is collection development; the faculty members choose most of the books and individual journal titles for the library, but the librarians select the research databases and reference materials. And we also “fill in the gaps” for the book collection in our assigned subject areas.  I spend quite a bit of time in meetings as well: we average about two internal staff and/or librarian meetings a week, which take about 5 hours total, and I also have periodic meetings with other campus committees. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 09:45 AM

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What’s it like to be a…Dean of Students?

My job title is:  Dean of Student Development

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
My daily schedule has some consistencies with regular one-on-one meetings with my staff or weekly committee meetings but also varies from week to week depending upon the time of year and the responsibilities I have for that time of the semester.  I tend to have one-on-one meetings with my staff in the mornings. I often attend chapel and eat lunch on-campus.  And typically, my afternoons are filled with committee meetings, appointments with students and attending to other details of my work (reading, e-mail, etc.).

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I got my start as a Resident Assistant (RA) in college.  A couple years after I graduated, in large part due to my enjoyment of being an RA, I began graduate school in higher education administration while also serving as a Resident Director (RD).  I have continued working in higher education ever since.  I am in my 11th year here at Calvin (not including the 2 years after completing my masters degree, when I worked here as an RD).  Prior to this I was Dean of Student Development at Malone College for 9 years.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/11 at 11:54 AM

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top Ten Career Things To Do Over Christmas Break

With visions of home cooked food and plenty of break time dancing through sleep-deprived minds of many college seniors, little thought is typically given to job searching over the holidays.
This year more than ever, though, maximizing the next few weeks can catapult one to the head of the line come January.
So here’s a list of strategies to do just that. Otherwise known as—-
Top Ten Career Things To Do Over Christmas Break
1. Begin visualizing the new you: an employed professional.
2. Take your research skills to the newspaper. Check the business section and classifieds for trends and ideas. Sample questions to ask: what businesses are profiled? Which sectors seem to be running the most ads? What qualities, outside of narrow technical skills, are they looking for? What terms do they use to describe those qualities?
3. Refine your job target. No clue? Schedule career testing and a follow up test interpretation appointment with a career counselor immediately upon returning to campus.
4. Construct or reconstruct your resume if you don’t already have one.
5. Assess resume additions for spring semester. There’s still time to volunteer, get work published on campus, become part of a professional organization, pick up further job and/or internship experience.
6. Purchase interviewing clothes at post-Christmas sales. Wear them to get accustomed to the look and feel.
7. Use social gatherings to network. Let anyone and everyone—your dentist, church members, friends of your parents, recent grads living in your city—know you’re looking.
8. Shadow someone at home who’s working in your field. Or conduct an informational interview to see what your dream career is really like.
9. Build your web presence. Clean up Facebook and set up Linkedin.
10. Establish an end-of-break goal. Meeting it will confirm the feeling that your job search has begun in earnest. 



Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 12/16 at 01:24 PM

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Registered Nurse?

My job title is: Registered Nurse
My actual position is: Acute Care Staff Nurse on a medical-surgical orthopedic floor

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

A typical day for me actually starts at around 7pm.  When the new shift comes on, we receive ‘report’ from the previous shift.  This lets us know more about the patients than we can find out by just looking at their charts.  After report, we assess each patient and pass out any evening medications they might need.  We also help them get ready for bed, which can mean helping them wash their back or face and brushing their teeth.  With a little bit of luck most of them will be able to get some sleep, but the rest of the night consists of rounding on each patient at least every hour, re-assessing at midnight, and passing morning medications starting around 5am.  Nurses are the “eyes and ears” of the doctor, so if we catch something going wrong with a patient or if we need to have a medication changed, we have to page the doctor in the middle of the night and inform them and then take and implement any new orders they may give.  I usually leave around 7:30am.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/25 at 10:37 AM

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Lab Coordinator?

My job title is: Laboratory Coordinator
My actual position: Glorified Lab Assistant/Facilities Manager

What does a normal day look like?  Is it consistent throughout the year?  If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
On a normal day I start about a half hour before the rest of the lab gets in and my day doesn’t end until about a half hour after everyone else leaves.  During much of it, I am at the desk answering emails, scheduling and maintaining calendars, and calling vendors to either fix equipment or handle delivery problems. But a good portion also includes assisting the department with personnel problems.
It is consistent throughout the year for the most part.  When my laboratory started, we didn’t have any divisions like Human Resources or Finance Administration, or even IT.  I was the person people talked to for problems in these areas.  As we’ve grown, we’ve hired more and more experts in these fields.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/19 at 04:21 PM

What’s it like to be a….social worker?

My job title is: Outreach and Assessment Coordinator

My actual position: I’m in a social work agency, where I chair the department responsible for the intake of clients.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
Most days look about the same, although there are always surprises. Our agency operates in people’s homes, so there’s a lot of driving, and then when I get back to the office, there’s a lot of paperwork. I also supervise three other people, so each day involves some time spent with them reviewing their work. The busiest time for me is the end of the month when I have to submit data about our monthly activities to the state. Our agency is funded by the state of New York, so I have to prove to them that we’re accomplishing enough to merit the money. This involves a lot of paperwork.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/19 at 04:13 PM

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Senior Art Director?

My job title is: Senior Art Director
My actual position is: senior art director, graphic designer, photo/video director, copywriter, strategic consultant, product designer, event promotions, illustrator, teacher, public speaker, etc

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

A typical day starts with a check-in with our production “traffic” coordinator to find out what projects are hot and if there’s anything that’s changed that I need to be aware of. Then, check emails, open up design programs on my Mac and start working the projects. That could mean brainstorming with a group or alone, researching, idea generating, creating sketches or designs, updating designs, making changes the client’s requested, printing copies and making prototypes, working with a copywriter, going on a photoshoot, traveling to meet with a client, presenting creative ideas or designs to a client, or sending something to be published.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/18 at 05:19 PM
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